Kensley Crowley, Democrats campaigner, WA
The heat of Australia’s political climate is paralysing decision-making for what is now a very uncertain future. Deep divisions exist between those that want urgent climate action and those who dismiss it and say the situation is politicised. This is causing pain on both sides of the political aisle and there seems no end in sight.
Climate action in most countries is now largely uncontroversial with the only question being how soon they can get to zero net emissions, and this is how it was in Australia in the later years of the Howard Government when the Democrats were in the Senate. Howard set in train an emissions trading scheme and then it was almost implemented by Kevin Rudd. But what was once pragmatic and realistic has since been twisted into battering rams for the major parties and paralysis is the deadly result. So what’s happened? Industry, particularly mining heavyweights, began to see that their profits would be at risk, mounted a massive lobbying effort and stepped up their political donations.
Two parties were then vying for the confidence of a population that doesn’t see an alternative. One has convinced those loyal to it that science, the very foundation of many systems we place our trust in daily and rely on for the knowledge we hold, is misplaced. It reassured them that the lump of CO2 dug out of the ground signifies the sustainability long term of burning fossil fuel despite much of the modern world now leaving it behind.
While countries such as Germany (which by the way is responsible for less than 2% of world emissions) abandoned coal without wrecking their economy, and industry leaders developed actionable, realistic alternatives, our Government used fear mongering and misinformation to persuade its faithful that this could not be done. That the cost is too great…while the real cost is being paid by those in the environmental firing line.
The alternative, government light Opposition, now baulks at criticising the Government on the absence a mitigation strategy – an Opposition burned in the last election when just enough voters in Queensland were convinced climate action would do great damage to their prospects. Now, with around 12 million acres of Australia charred, surely it’s clear that neither party is the answer.
With a measurable rise in climate disasters, loss and suffering and no movement by the major parties, surely now is the time for an alternative. Let’s have science-based policy backed by a modern understanding of the world around us, recognition of the desperate need of inclusivity and meeting on common ground and stakeholder-focused solutions. The need for a plan is now. An acceptance of the facts.
Now may be a very good time to keep the bastards honest, with policy that is for real.